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March 1, 2007

Recap | Box Score | Notes


THE MODERATOR: Joining us now, Susan Walvius, South Carolina head coach, and also Stacy Booker and Lauren Simms.

Coach, open with a comment.

COACH WALVIUS: This was an important game for us for a lot of reasons. Biggest one being that of the bubble teams that are out there in the Southeastern Conference this year, we are the second highest RPI behind Auburn. We knew we would have to come in, beating Auburn twice, a 30 RPI, late in the schedule, should show the committee how strong we are.

We stepped out, played Stanford at Stanford, played Oklahoma at home. This team is battle tested. Played the best teams in college basketball. We do that in the Southeastern Conference. The conference as a whole, you will hear this from all the coaches, is a much better league top to bottom. The RPI is No. 1. We knew it was an important game.

We’re looking to play our way into the NCAA tournament. I thought we had some senior players especially step up and make some big plays today. Stacy Booker and Lauren Simms have come through in every big game that we’ve had that’s been an SEC win. They both made big plays today at the end of the game.

I thought we rebounded the ball pretty well as a basketball team. We didn’t take care of it as much as we would have liked to in the first half, but we thought we corrected that the second half.

Just real proud of our team, excited to be advancing.


Q. Can you talk about the defense on Auburn’s last possession.

COACH WALVIUS: We’re bigger than a lot of times. We’re a very good defensive team. We have been for years. This group understands rotations, they understand how to guard. We were actually a little frustrated because we’d given up some looks earlier. We were late on our help rotation.

Late in this game we did a great job with our back side of the defense. We did a better job fronting the low post. We saw real resolve and commitment to get that job done. We knew where the ball was going. I thought our team did a good job defending.

Q. Stacy, what was it like for you, playing in your backyard here?

Stacy Booker: It’s good to be at home. Most of my family could come, my family and friends who haven’t seen me play my four years at South Carolina. It’s a nice feeling to be at home.

Q. Coach, can you look ahead to Tennessee tomorrow, the match up issues there.

COACH WALVIUS: Everybody’s got match up issues with Tennessee. Every program does. They just are a great basketball team. They are big. They’re athletic. Their defense is awesome. They’re a great rebounding team. They’ve got a lot offensively. They’re shooting the ball extremely well. They’re hard to guard because they can stretch your defense out.

They’re a tough match up for any team. When you go undefeated in the Southeastern Conference, it certainly shows your strength as a basketball team. They have played the toughest schedule in the country. We’ve got to go out and just fight. We’ve got to work.

As I said, our players have done a great job making plays recently. It will come down to that. I’m confident we’re going to come out and work hard.

Q. Stacy, your coach mentioned how important it was to beat Auburn, such a high RPI. You certainly had a big part in both those games, especially at the end. What is the key there with you and Auburn?

Stacy Booker: I don’t know. Like I said earlier, I just didn’t want to give up. I want to do anything for my team: Hustling, rebounding, shooting threes. I was going to do anything to get my team back in this game.

Q. Stacy, right before you came in here, we could hear you in the hallway saying, Never give up. Can you talk about that mentality, how much you’ll need that tomorrow facing the top seed in the tournament?

Stacy Booker: I think in the beginning of the season well, as far as now, we’re a stronger team. If we’re down, we’re able to step up, play better defense, rebound, to get our team back in the game and actually overcome and win the game.

I just didn’t want my team to give up. I was going to jam it in their heads the whole time. I don’t care how many times I was going to say it, I was just going to keep saying it. I guess it stuck with us. We came out with a win.

Q. Coach, how much would you say the success that you had in the second half was due to the senior leadership that you have? So many seniors that play a lot of minutes.

COACH WALVIUS: There’s no question about it. The two guards sitting here did a fantastic job. Our senior class did a great job. Some of our younger players did, as well. ‘Kesha Tolliver brings so much emotion. She has a physical style of play. She’s a junior player. Demetress Adams is a sophomore, brings so much defensively, hard to shoot over her.

Our team, for being as diverse a group of people as they are, they are a cohesive group.

Stacy, one of the things we talked about early in our season this year, looking for our leadership to step up, looking for people to be a catalyst to this group. Certainly Lauren has done that in her quiet leadership way. Stacy Booker has done that in her very emotional, positive way. Lakesha Tolliver is providing that for us. It’s somebody different every night. It’s a big part of it, certainly, the veteran leadership.

Q. Lauren, can you talk about the three you hit in front of Bonner late in the first half of the shot clock, the lift you gave the team?

Lauren Simms: The shot clock was running down. I knew I had to put it up or try to draw the foul. Fortunately I was able to get it up over her long arms and it went in for me, so…